Sunday, December 18, 2011

let's review: corleone's trattoria

     Our party of six stopped in at Corleone's on Friday night. It was our first time visiting this quaint little trattoria in downtown Savannah.
     As you round the corner of Broughton Street onto MLK Boulevard, the aroma of garlic assaults the senses, leaving one quite weak in the knees before even making it through the door.
     The wine-red facade and striped awning beckons passersby to peek in the large, bottle-lined windows.
     The cozy interior exudes a friendly, neighborhood vibe. I can picture myself becoming a regular. They'll shout my name as I enter, just like Norm on Cheers and I'll politely say, My usual table please, dahhling.
quaint exterior. photo courtesy of Corleone's
     Perusing the extensive menu, I was torn between two lovers...veal piccata: white wine, lemon, garlic, capers, spinach over potato gratin OR, the herb encrusted salmon: pan seared and served over linguine with olives, capers and tomatoes. These menu descriptions aided my indecisiveness.
     One of my companions chose the veal, so I decided to bravely go with the salmon. I'll let you in on a little secret... even though I enjoyed the pasta, I was a bit disappointed with the fish. The menu says, herb encrusted, but doesn't mention a breaded exterior. The salmon was fresh. I would allow it to shine rather than hide under a bushel... of crumbs.
     The veal was amazingly light. I should have stuck with my first instinct. Ms. Smartiepants, who did order it, thought the piccata a bit lemony on it's own, but not me.
     I'm a huge fan of anything citrus. We agreed that the potatoes gratin cut the sauce's tartness and gave the dish a velvety finish.
     Our other lady friend ordered the eggplant parmesan. The eggplant was lightly breaded and fried, served over linguine, then topped with marinara and mozzarella.
     She enjoyed her choice immensely, but thought the use of marinara excessive. The solution for next time? Ask for a light hand on the sauce.
PEI mussels. photo courtesy of Corleone's
     My husband went for Prince Edward Island mussels simmered in white wine and garlic over linguine (AMAZING,) and another spouse ordered shrimp fra diavolo sauteed with whole cherry tomatoes in spicy marinara served over linguine.
     I'm surmising that the shrimp was good, as he quickly joined the Clean Plate Club. The four who had linguine all agreed on its perfect texture and freshness.
shrimp fra diavolo. photo courtesy of Corleone's
     Husband Number Three ordered a dramatically presented kabob, brought to the table on a high wooden stand, meat swaying over the plate like a crazy-big cocoon dangling from a branch.
     As our server set it on the table, oohs and aahs intermingled with the sounds of tinkling glasses and chatty diners. Corleone's menu offers your choice of filet, shrimp, veggies or a combo. The kabobs are served with Israeli couscous, spanikopita and salad.
     Finally, here is a tip on saving a bit of hard-earned moolah on your evening out. When I called to make reservations, I inquired about the specials, including wine specials for the night. The host mentioned a corking fee.
     This means you are allowed to bring your favorite wine with you. The restaurant charges $10 per opened bottle, no matter the size. They open and pour for you and loan you glasses to drink it out of. Isn't that nice?
     Corleone's wine menu is extensive. The price for a bottle begins at $30. Since we split the corking fee, we saved money for dessert and coffee.
     This particular evening, we walked next door to Lulu's Chocolate Bar, since we were with some Savannah newbies. Next time I visit Corleone's, I'm ordering the veal or maybe the Lobster Ravioli and saving room for their decadent looking cannoli;)
Corleone's Trattoria on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

when what to my wandering eyes should appear... AAACK!

Twas two weeks before Christmas and all through the house, the creatures were grumbling... the cause was my spouse.
The stockings all hung by the chimney with care in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.
When out in the kitchen there arose such a clatter, I sprang from my chair to see what was the matter.
Away to the doorway I flew to my man as he tore open the boxes and threw up his hands.
The shine of the lights on the glass tile aglow gave the lustre of  starlight to counter below.
When what to my wandering eyes should appear but a mismatched display and sad hubby so dear.
He was dressed all in flannel from his head to his shoe.
His clothes were all covered with dust and with glue.
A bundle of rags he had flung on the ground and he looked like a hobo just turning around.
His eyebrows how frowny, his dimeanor not merry. His cheeks were so sallow, his nose like a cherry.
His drawl little mouth was drawn up in a pout. The stubble on his chin was as gray as the grout.
A wince of his eye and a twist of his head soon gave me to know I had something to dread.
He spoke not a word but went straight to his work
Stripped off the wrong tiles then turned with a jerk.
Waving a palm toward the offending sku 
 and giving a nod, I knew just what to do.
So up to the Depot, the courses I flew with a car full of cardboard and glass tiles, too.
But I heard him exclaim as I drove out of sight... 

Well, never mind. This is a family-friendly blog and some tales are best left unfinished;)
Wish me luck on finding the right color

Sunday, December 11, 2011

breakfast bruschetta

     Bright and early Saturday morning... Surprise. And not in a good way. No more yogurt. No more english muffins.
     Hmmm, what to have for breakfast? Just as panic began to set in, I had a rare moment of clarity. Here is the happy result:
     Blend goat cheese and honey together to make a spread. Next, slice up a multi-grained baguette and smear cheese mixture on each slice. Top with apple slices.
     Grate a bit of nutmeg over it all, then pop the whole thing into the toaster oven to melt the cheese and toast the bread. Serve with clementine wedges and a piping hot latte.
omg... I'm a culinary genius! Hahaha

Thursday, December 8, 2011

peppermint bark brownies

     Besides an appointment for your Christmas pedi, this is the easiest thing you will make during the holiday season. Really, it is.
     I've seen lots of recipes that require more steps, like chopping pieces of peppermint candy in the food processor or making icing. They are lovely to look at, but not necessary.
     For the simplest version, you will need two main things: A box of peppermint bark candy and your favorite brownie mix. You could also make brownies from scratch, like my recipe for Helen Gurley Brownies, found here.
     Peppermint bark is easily found in discount stores such as Ross, Marshall's, TJ Maxx or Homegoods. After a false start to my holiday baking, I now have two one-pound boxes in my pantry, ready to go.
     I made mine yesterday with Ghiradelli Squares, the only thing available at the time. The little squares must be individually unwrapped and cost a bit more per ounce. The difference is that they aren't dark chocolate and we all know what that means... no antioxidants. If you're going to indulge, you must be able to say it's good for you. Am I right?
     So... bake brownies according to package or recipe directions. While brownies are in the oven, unwrap the peppermint bark and break into pieces. The minute they come out of the oven, drop broken pieces of bark onto the top of the piping hot brownies in pan. Wait a minute or two for the candy to become soft and gooey.
     Gently spread it around with a spatula or knife until all of brownies are covered, adding more if needed. If you want to fancy them up and take them out to a party, you can add some chopped up peppermints. The pink, white and red flecks scattered over the dark, fudgey squares are SO festive!
     Cool and cut into squares. Place on a sparkly holiday platter or devour them immediately, washing them down with the coldest milk possible. Merry Christmas eating!

food maven's blustery day

     A week ago, we were sweating. Yesterday was balmy. Last night it rained. Then this afternoon, as I exited the local Sam's Club with my shopping cart a mighty change came over Mother Nature. Instantly and without warning.
     First, a few sprinkles. Next raindrops fell in earnest. And finally... the wind. I grabbed my umbrella and popped it open. It immediately turned wrong-side out.
     The gusting wind attempted to steal my cart while I was distracted with the umbrella. A buggy racing willy-nilly through the parking lot, dodging light poles and aiming for car doors. That can't be a good thing.
     I am reminded of the trials of Pooh and Piglet on a similar day when the east wind switched places with the west wind. Suddenly, I'm wishing for a slicker and some galoshes. Brrr...
Happy Winds-day, everybody;)

Monday, December 5, 2011

quickie parmchickie

     I made a quick version of chicken parmesan for supper the other night. I thought I'd shared the recipe with you long before... But I guess not. Sorry.
     This version is a bit healthier than the breaded and fried dish often served in Italian restaurants. I usually use chicken breast cutlets, but had some boneless, skinless thighs on hand, so they were the bird of choice.
     The thighs came out moist and tender. My daughter's boyfriend remarked that he couldn't believe that this was a normal weeknight meal for us. I informed him that this ParmChickie was SO simple, HE could easily make it the next time.
     I like to make and freeze my own marinara, but if I am using sauce from a jar, I love Gia Russa brand. They make several varieties. I wait for them to be on sale, then stock up.
Ingredients
1 pound spaghetti noodles
2 t. olive oil
2 T. flour
1 t. salt
1 t. pepper
4-6 chicken breast cutlets or boneless, skinless thighs
1/2 c. dry white wine
1 jar marinara or 1 qt. homemade sauce
sharp provolone cheese ( I like Boar's Head Picante Provolone)
Directions
Bring large pot of water to a boil. Salt liberally, then add the pound of pasta. Meanwhile, mix flour, salt and pepper together on a plate. Rinse chicken and place on a plate. If using thighs, pound a little until thin. Lightly dust chicken with flour mixture. Brown both sides in a saute pan on medium heat with oil. When chicken is nearly cooked through and golden brown, splash a little white wine in the pan, scraping up the yummy bits in the bottom.
Pour in marinara sauce and stir to blend. Place lid on pan and reduce heat to low. Cook for another few minutes, until chicken is cooked completely. Just before serving, place one slice of sharp provolone cheese on each cutlet. Replace lid to melt cheese.
Serve chicken over cooked spaghetti noodles. Make sure to have a salad or steamed veggie with it;)
     Now, wasn't that simple?